Each year the Department of Justice submits a report to Congress detailing its efforts to encourage agency compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The FOIA Litigation and Compliance Report describes the different ways in which the Office of Information Policy (OIP) works to provide training, guidance, and counseling to agencies to assist them in their administration of the FOIA.
As detailed in the report, during 2012 the Department issued guidance on several topics designed to improve FOIA administration and to further promote the directives contained within President Obama’s Memorandum on the FOIA and Attorney General Holder’s FOIA Guidelines. This guidance included:
- New procedures on the implementation of the FOIA’s statutory law enforcement exclusion provisions designed to bring greater accountability and transparency to their existence and use without compromising the important national security and law enforcement interests that are at stake;
- Renewed focus on the importance of agencies closing their 10 oldest pending requests and consultations each year; and
- Direction to agencies based upon OIP’s assessment of agency progress in 2012 (PDF), including use of more advanced technology to assist in core processing tasks and establishment of multi-track FOIA processing queues to improve processing time for “simple” track requests and provide requesters with the option of tailoring their requests so that they fit within the track that can be processed more quickly.
The 2012 Report describes the Department’s increased outreach efforts including its FOIA Technology Working Group, which serves as a forum for agency personnel to discuss application of technological and digital tools to various aspects of FOIA administration. OIP’s contribution to the Department’s expanded use of social media is also discussed with details on the launch and use of @FOIAPost. With the launch of this Twitter account, OIP is using social media to alert the public to FOIA Post articles, guidance, FOIA Library updates, and many more online resources with a goal of reaching the largest audience possible.
Additionally, the 2012 Report details how the Department is promoting greater accountability in the administration of the FOIA itself. New quarterly reporting requirements for key FOIA metrics provide the public with more timely access to FOIA data during the course of the fiscal year, rather than having to wait until after completion of the year to have access to that data. OIP also continued to update its chart of statutes that courts have found to qualify for use with Exemption 3 of the FOIA (PDF), as well as its list of statutes cited by agencies in their Annual FOIA Reports in connection with Exemption 3 (PDF).
Finally, each year the Department includes in its Litigation and Compliance Report lists of FOIA litigation cases brought and decided during the calendar year. For the first time in the 2012 Report OIP is providing both of these lists in an open, machine-readable format (CSV), as well as in a portable document format (PDF).
These are just some of the many efforts taken by OIP to encourage agency compliance with the FOIA which are detailed in the 2012 Litigation and Compliance Report. This year’s report, as well reports from years past, can be viewed on the Reports page of our site.